There are two villains here.
One is Thomas Sellers, a New York computer scientist in the financial department of the Mars Terraforming Project. When the story starts, he has just successfully stolen the planet without anyone being the wiser, and made the first mistake of his villainous career: He believes that to keep his spoils, he'll need strength as well as secrecy. So he goes to shop for weapons and mercenaries.
Villain number two, Colonel Karkoff, is only to happy to provide. Karkoff used to be with the Red Army, and has taken this whole United Earth thing very badly. So he went freelance as an arms dealer and mob boss, using all his old connections and his old knowledge to "liberate" everything that is dangerous and unpleasant in the old Soviet arsenals and sell it to the highest bidder.
Neither of them is, of course, a villain in their own mind.
Sellers is actually a political utopist with a strong belief in individual liberty. He also believes individual liberty best expressed and preserved by a market free of government control and regulation. In his optinon, the sum of self-interest creates a common good. He comes from a upper middle class family, was a nerd in school and a whizz kid at uni, he worked hard and passionately, and now, at 36, has the highest position available for a computer scientist in a financing organisation, master of all their data. However, having reached that position, and with the company tasked with a stable project, there is no "up" for him to go. He is aware that his career has stalled, and blames paperpushers, rules mongers (there are a lot of rules, after all, the company is working on a technocratic government's project, if through intermediaries) and people who are insufficiently aware of his genius.
Real geniusses like him, he believes, make their own luck. If the world isn't as it should be, he'll have to make it so. Throuh ARPANET and early USENET (which the US, at the moment, is still developing for their military and education -- it will get discontinued soon as to not divert from canon too much) he has found like-minded people to create his utopia: All he needs now is a topia which is not "u". And as he controls the complete logistics of the Mars Terraforming Project, that where he's going to create it.
Sellers is very intelligent and resourceful, but he's also incredibly naive and short-sighted. A dangerous combination...
Karkoff is actually the manifestation of what Sellers belives in. He's the fittest, he's a survivor, and he believes only in strength and in what benefits himself. He takes what he wants, he destroys those who oppose him, and being handed a whole planet on a silver platter by a bunch of stupid idealists is too good an opportunity to let pass. Why should some US American upstart rule the world? Karkoff has also stolen a space ship, and like Rhodan, he is starting to dream of Empire...
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